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How Watch Service Personnel Clean Your Dial for a Better Look
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How Watch Service Personnel Clean Your Dial for a Better Look

An element where your first impression of a timepiece comes from
Mar 25, 2022

Aside from regularly cleaning our watch, there is a specific part that most usually simply glosses over; the dial. Taking care of the face of your timepiece will mean fewer scratches, fogging, and dullness. Does your dial look in need of replacement? This article will also cover information on how professionals replace your dial.

Read on to find out more about the nitty-gritty of how to clean a watch face from the very beginning and steps on replacing an old dial with a fresh new one so you would not need to buy a new watch.

What is a Watch Face

The face of a watch is the dial. It’s the part of a watch that highlights the time and as it is located in the center, it’s mostly where our first impressions of a timepiece come from.

Different types of watches show different types of faces or dials. While the average timepiece displays a single dial with hands, hour markers, and the brand signature, the chronograph watches can have up to three subdials indicating the hour, minutes, and seconds of a day. Its role certainly emphasizes the importance of having a clean watch dial.

The Reason to Clean a Watch Face

You might be questioning why you should take care in exclusivity cleaning the dial on your watches. This is because a greasy watch can ruin your look and your experience in reading the time.

In addition to that, the passing of time and the watches’ exposure to humid weather and high temperature can contribute to the yellowing of the dial. Add to the fact that with some stainless steel watches, the dirt accumulated will become even more unhygienic.

There’s also another strong reason why you should take particular care in the tidiness of your watch face: its durability. If the watch endures frequent bumps and falls from your constant use, pieces of the glass on the dial may fall ruining the lacquer and damaging the signature and numbers. 

How to Clean Watch Dial

So, how to clean a watch face? What materials does a professional need and are there options to not have to remove them from the timepiece? Below is an in-depth explanation of the process of cleaning your watch dial done by professionals.

Tools and Materials You Need

A  session done at a watch shop would require having the right tools and materials on how to clean a watch face. Here is a list of them:

  • Water
  • Mild detergent
  • A few Q-tips
  • Lint-free/chamois cloth
  • Dust blower
  • Toothpick

The Steps in Cleaning Your Watch Dial 

The initial step in how to clean a watch face is to remove the dial. To do this, the professional will first need to open the case of your watch. Then, they will release the movement from your watch and carefully remove the dial from your timepiece. Lastly, attentively take off the hour hands from the dial. 

Next, most professionals will have a dust blower and use the tool to get rid of the dust from the surface. After that, they can with care remove broken pieces of glass and tough dirt on the dial by taking advantage of household materials such as a toothpick or a sharpened piece of peg wood.

Aside from that, remaining marks from fingerprints, debris, and stains would be removed by using a silly putty or a Rodico.

To get the best results in carrying out how to clean a watch face, the professional can take care by using a soft dial brush with a very mild detergent to cleanse the dial. But, this step requires extreme caution as it can damage the lacquer. The benefit of this step is that it can reduce the yellowing and persistent dirt unsolvable in the previous steps.

If you are in need and your watch is capable of replacing the lacquered part, the local watch repair shop can also do the job.

Read more: The Alluring Charm of Watches With Sweeping Second Hands

The Steps to Clean Watch Dial Without Removing It

If you as a watch owner are anxious about removing the dial from your timepiece, consider the following steps done by a professional on how to clean a watch face by ensuring the exterior of your prized timepiece stays top-notch.

Firstly, they will prepare a mix of clean water and mild soap. Next in how to clean a watch face without removing it, they use a chamois or lint-free cloth coupled with a soft-bristled toothbrush dipped in a small amount of the mixture to polish the exterior of your watch dial. Lastly, the professional will use a Q-tip to reach for areas surrounding the dial to pick up grimes.

How to Replace Your Watch Dial

The dial on your watch is yellowing and there are lots of scratches here and there that cannot be salvaged with simple cleaning methods. Unfortunately, if your watch dial is already at this level and you still want to maintain using the watch, the solution in how to clean a watch face is to replace them professionally.

The dial is a component that when damaged can easily be restored although with the added cost of buying its replacement and the restore service. Besides, it is important to be noted that a watch dial is a fragile component that you better take the watch to a professional for safety. An inappropriate working environment for dial replacement might lead to the worst case for the watch.  So, how does a watch professional change a watch dial? Here is a brief overview of the how-tos.

Tools and Materials

Replacing a watch dial will be easier when using the proper tools and materials. Below is a list used by professionals:

  • Blunt blade
  • Tweezers
  • Parts tray
  • Watchmaker’s set of screwdrivers
  • Watch hands remover 
  • Watch hands picker
  • Movement holder
  • Replacement watch dial

The Steps To Take When Replacing a Watch Dial

The professional hand has lots more experience with replacing a watch dial. Here are the steps that a watch repairer can take to change the face of your watch:

  1. First,  open the case of the watch using a blunt blade, careful not to scratch parts of the watch. Second loosen the case back by putting it down crystal-side on your palm and rotating it counterclockwise using your other hand. 
  2. The next part is to lift the movement from the case and put it on the movement holder. Be mindful that attached will be the watch's hands and face. 
  3. Some precautions, contemporary watches might need a case remover which can also be done at a local watch repair shop. Additionally, the newer models have a stopper located between the back of the case and the case which helps with the water resistance hence it is best to replace them.
  4. Next, they put the watch hands remover above the watch face, aligning their position according to the holder of the hours, minutes, and seconds hands. Then, place the hands picker tool to remove one hand at a time from the timepiece.
  5. After that is removing the screws that tighten the face to the movement. Be wary of the hour wheel and spring located beneath the dial so that it does not come out. 
  6. By using your fingertips, carefully clinch onto the edges of the replacement dial and place it above the center part of the movement. Careful not to leave fingerprint marks on the dial.
  7. Lastly, you will need to return the movement to the case and put the case back along with the stopper in the inverted way of how it was previously opened.

That summarizes the tutorial on the specifics of how to clean watch dials for professionals. For a quality watch with a longer prime condition, it is best to clean the exterior parts of the dial once a week with a quick swipe. Conversely, cleaning the inner parts of the dial can be done less routinely. Consider professionally tidying them once every six months to one year..


Alternatively, contemplate on making sure your watch is clean and tidy once a month. A clean and tidy timepiece will not only make you less prone to getting allergies from a dirty watch but also contribute to a much longer lifetime of your prized timepieces.

Read more: How to Clean Metal Watch Band in a Proper Way

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